“Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean burying unwanted feelings
or looking for the silver lining in a bad situation. Practicing gratitude means acknowledging what is still good alongside the mess."
― Heidi Barr
Sometimes good things do not come in the packaging that we expect.
I have come to notice that in my own life when things I have prayed or worked for come to pass, but are presented in a form or in a manner that I did not expect, I often run the risk of missing the blessing.
I think this is because we build up in our minds how our dreams will come to pass, how our requests will be granted, and how our problems will be resolved. We develop an expectation of how things will look in the end—the proverbial ‘happily ever after.’ We get so singularly focused on what we expect to see, that we often miss the moment that is right in front of us. We miss opportunities for celebration and thanksgiving.
I have a track record of being a first-rate offender in this regard. Over the years, I’ve had many situations where I have wanted specific changes to occur and/or certain opportunities to come to pass. I’ve prayed for everything from job promotions, to the healing of a loved one, to financial stability, to the reconciliation of relationships. The list goes on and on. I have waited expectantly for the answers and when the answers did not come in the packaging I expected, I was not happy. In fact, in times when the answers ultimately did come in the form or manner that I originally expected, but I had to go through an uncomfortable or challenging process beforehand, I wasn’t exactly oozing with gratitude after experiencing the additional adversity.
I am sure I am not alone.
Have you felt (or would you feel) disheartened when your prayer for promotion at work comes not in the form of a new job title and increased salary, but instead in the form of an assignment to lead a project consisting of a team of your peers with difficult personalities and subpar work ethic?
Have you felt (or would you feel) disappointed when your desire for a reliable mode of transportation to and from work comes not in the form of a new car, but instead in the form of a free metro pass?
Have you ever wanted to reconcile with a friend who despite your best efforts never reciprocated your efforts to rekindle the friendship?
Some iteration of these types of scenarios have likely happened to all of us at some point.
After years of missing the blessings in such situations, I have come to learn that I must keep my eyes wide open and learn how to discern and appreciate the good amidst the bad. Often, alongside the mess, is a whole lot of good. Of course, there are situations where it is difficult to find the blessing, but even in the most difficult challenges of our lives, the blessings will, at some point, become apparent, and we will be able to discern how we grew through each experience.
The next time the answer to what you’ve been waiting for doesn’t come in the packaging you visualized or would have preferred, I challenge you to first take a moment to express gratitude for the answer, and second, think about how the answer actually does benefit you, bless you and/or position you better moving forward. If you do these two things, I believe that you will experience more contentment and peace in your navigation of the life you’ve been gifted.
I certainly have.